The Thinking Woman's Thriller

desert with sign

I love good thrillers, as you know if you've read my blog. John Connolly, John Sandford, James Lee Burke, Robert Crais, all the usual reliable suspects and wonderful writers who are always on my radar screen. I'm always on the lookout for anyone new and wonderful, and every once in a while I find one.  Last week was one of those days, and I have to tell you about mydelightful find.  Rage Against the Dying, by Becky Masterman. Surprisingly, a first novel from a new writer who has what it takes. I can't be coy about it - I loved this book. What a treat to read such a well-written, authentically voiced, can't put it down winner with a heroine that shows us an older woman isn't somebody who should be taking flower arranging classes and ignored by the rest of the world. Thank you, Becky Masterman, you made my day.

Brigid Quinn is a retired FBI agent with a reputation some revere and others scorn, but she's never been the shrinking violet, by the book sort of law enforcement agent.  After retiring, surprising even herself, she married an ex-priest, her intellectual and quirky equal, happily rock hunting and learning what it's like to love someone and trying hard to be at peace. When a serial killer she didn't ever find is arrested right in the vicinity of her backyard, the fragile serenity of Brigid's year-old marriage is shaken, by both her failure to tell her new husbandthe entire truth about her past as well as her eagerness to make certain the suspect really is the right man. You see, Brigid blames herself for the death of her protege, the last victim of the Route 66 killer and she can't let it go, gently or any other way.

While the concept here isn't new, the main character certainly is, and Brigid is amazing at any age. As a colleague says to her, "After young men see you, they dream dreams without realizing why." That's one of the best lines ever written about a fascinating woman.  I kept seeing the beautiful Helen Mirren in the movie version, and I hope some enterprising producer has read this book. I hope as well there may be other books Ms. Masterman writes about Brigid. Oh yes, this would make a franchise, or at least a couple of great followups.  I want to step back into her world, say hello to Max Coyote, Carlo and the Pugs.  A pleasure - please, ma'am, may I have some more?